all credits: Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody
published: December 2010
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have published a major study of 333 deaths in police custody between 1998/99 and 2008/09. The study shows a fall in the number of deaths over an 11 year period and makes a series of recommendations for police forces and health service providers to prevent future tragedies.
In the first year of the study (1998/99) 49 people died in police custody in England and Wales, but by the last year (2008/09) this had fallen to 15. The long term study gathered information about all deaths in custody between 1998/99 and 2008/09, including personal characteristics of those who died, medical factors and the circumstances of their arrest, to identity themes.
The research found that potential factors contributing to the reduction include better police cell design with fewer ligature points, ill detainees being taken to hospital rather than police custody, and better use of restraint techniques. However, in just under half of the cases police failed to carry out a required risk assessment, and also prevealent were incidents where custody officers had not conducted proper checks or rousing of detainees. The study found that in many of the cases custody officers and staff lacked basic first aid training.